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30 Forgotten Cars Automakers Must Revive

Vukasin HerbezJuly 11, 2019

  1. SAAB 900 Turbo

SAAB presented their 900 models in the late ’70s. This was when they were at the height of their success as an upscale manufacturer of high quality, high tech cars. The 900 Turbo emerged at a time when turbocharging was new. So, only a few models had it as a regular production item.

In fact, in the late ’70s, the 900 Turbo was briefly the only non-sports model that had a turbocharged engine. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder with forced induction produced 143 HP at first, and later 185 HP. They initially offered the 900 Turbo as a coupe and then as a convertible. In the ’80s, SAAB cars were popular among upper-middle-class buyers, intellectuals and artists.

It was a stylish yet usable, affordable car with advanced technology and a unique design. Back in the day, the SAAB 900 was different from any other offering in that price class. The convertible was especially popular in yuppie circles and with young executives in the ’80s. Fast forward 30 years and SAAB as a factory is no longer around.

  1. Porsche 928

The 928 is one of the best Porsche road cars despite the fact it was and still is a controversial model. This was the only true Porsche GT car, so most fans would love to see it back in some shape or form. But back in the mid-70s, Porsche decided the 911 was outdated and not profitable enough to keep the company afloat. So, the board approved the development of a new model with a water-cooled V8 engine in the front.

Also, they wanted to give it a different design, technology, and appearance. So, in 1977, Porsche introduced the 928, but kept the 911 in production. The 928 was a Gran Turismo coupe with a powerful V8 engine in the front and a transaxle gearbox. It had ideal weight distribution, an intelligent suspension, and a space-age design.

In contrast to the 911, which still had some VW Beetle cues, the 928 looked like it came from another planet. Although the early 928s produced just a bit below 300 HP, they were fast. Porsche made this car fast for effortless cruising over continents in comfort, speed, and luxury. They kept improving the 928, introducing the S4 version in 1987.

  1. Buick GNX

The ’80s were the dark ages of muscle cars and American performance vehicles, but there were a few bright moments. One of the cars that restored the faith in the muscle car movement in the ’80s was the mighty Buick GNX. The story of this model is an interesting one. As far back as 1982, Buick started experimenting with turbocharging its line of standard V6 engines.

The results were satisfying, so their engineers got permission to develop a performance version with better acceleration figures. Soon, there was a Buick Grand National with 175 HP. This wasn’t impressive, but it was a start. In the next couple of years, the Grand National got a bigger engine and more power.

It jumped from 175 HP to 200 HP, and finally to 235 HP. Unfortunately, the Buick GNX was a one-year-only model, so the company made just 547 of them. Today, drivers praise those cars just as much as they did in the late ’80s.

  1. Lancia Delta HF Integrale

It is a shame that Fiat is slowly killing the Lancia. This once-proud Italian brand is close to shutting its doors for good. However, most car enthusiasts remember the Delta HF Integrale, which is the most famous hot hatch from this manufacturer. Lancia introduced their compact model, the Delta, in 1979.

However, it was on the market for five years before the company started thinking about a performance version. The main feature was a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 185 HP and later, up to 220 HP. It also came with a permanent, well-balanced all-wheel-drive system. The Delta HF Integrale is an important hot hatch because it was the first one with an AWD system.

It marked the beginning of the transition from front-wheel drive in simple, affordable hot hatches to the high-tech, all-wheel-drive performance monsters of today. The combination of a powerful engine, sharp handling, great traction, and low weight was intoxicating for magazine testers of the day. And that resulted in great reviews and lots of praise from the motoring press.

  1. Chrysler 300 “Letter Car” Series

Even before muscle cars were a thing, Chrysler produced a series of high-performance coupes and convertibles. They delivered unbelievable performance with unmistakable style. Chrysler named the model the 300. They followed it with the letters of the alphabet, with the C300 being the first model in 1955. Chrysler called it the Letter Series.

They made those fast and powerful upscale cruisers between 1955 and 1965 when they discontinued the series. They equipped the first models with early Hemi engines that could produce 300 HP; hence, the name. Those early Chrysler “Letter Series” models were the first American made cars with 300 HP ratings. With the introduction of advanced intake setups, power levels rose, so those big, heavy cars achieved impressive acceleration times.

This glorious machine captivated the automobile public with its elegance and uncompromised performance. It even broke a few records on the Bonneville speed trials. Chrysler only made 618 coupes and 191 convertibles that year. However, this model is the perfect example of an early luxury muscle car.

  1. Studebaker Avanti R2

Once successful and highly popular, the Studebaker is now a long-forgotten American brand. Studebaker closed its doors in 1966 after suffering poor sales for over a decade and losing ground to Detroit’s Big Three. However, just before this legendary brand left the market, it produced one interesting luxury model with muscle car credentials – the Studebaker Avanti R2.

In the early ‘60s, Studebaker management decided to invest in a luxury coupe to fight poor sales. They thought a new, fancy upscale model would attract customers and attract attention back to Studebaker. So, in 1962, they introduced the sleek, modern-looking Avanti. The innovative design, construction, and technology earned praises from the motoring press.

The base version was not powerful, but soon Studebaker introduced a supercharged R2 option with 289 HP. But, the R2 version didn’t come with an automatic transmission. It was only available with a close-ratio manual gearbox and air conditioning was not available. And that’s probably what affected the sales numbers.

  1. Acura Integra Type R

Back in the late ‘90s, the Acura Integra Type R was one of the purest performance cars you could buy on the American market. With a high-revving four-cylinder engine, 195 HP, a lightweight and balanced chassis, the Integra Type R was a car enthusiast’s dream in a compact package. It was like the Honda CRX from the ’80s, but better in all aspects.

It was even capable of killing those much more expensive and powerful sports cars. They stripped the Integra Type R down to the essentials, so the only option was air conditioning. Also, it only came in two colors. After they discontinued it in the early 2000s, Honda never produced a precision driving machine again.

Although the S2000 roadster was close and had a similar engine as the Integra Type R, it was not the same. And that is why many car fans wish Honda would introduce a perfect driver’s coupe again. Since the new Civic Type R with more than 300 HP is here, transplanting this drivetrain into a coupe body could be a possibility.

  1. Cadillac Eldorado

Sadly, Cadillac discontinued the Eldorado nameplate in 2003. Although they introduced several interesting coupes and convertible models, they just couldn’t come up with an appropriate replacement. The CTS and ATS coupes are great and the XLR was an interesting model. However, Cadillac needs a powerful flagship model to remind consumers they are still one of the best premium car manufacturers in the world.

The Eldorado model came out in 1953 as a limited production convertible. It featured the best of what Cadillac had to offer in the early 1950s. It was expensive, big and full of style. For the next 50 years, Eldorado models were popular choices in the personal luxury segment. Since 1967, Eldorado has moved on to front-wheel drive, which was a radical move for a big U.S. coupe.

  1. Honda Prelude

Honda has always been a sporty car company offering nimble, lightweight vehicles with high-revving engines. They built the fantastic NSX sports model, but in recent years, it seems like Honda is oriented towards crossovers and SUV models. That’s too bad since Honda’s true heritage lies in performance models, rather than big SUVs with third-row seating.

Car fans may have the new Honda Civic Type R, but what they want is to see the Honda Prelude make a comeback. The Prelude was an attractive, two-door coupe. Honda produced it in several generations, from the late 1970s to 2001 until they discontinued it. During its production run, the Prelude always offered affordable performance, perfect road holding and elegant style.

The last generation went up to 200 HP and produced a vivid performance for the ‘90s. And that’s the reason it is unclear why Honda killed the Prelude. But now is the time to revive the nameplate in a sleek two-door sports model with the Honda Civic Type R drivetrain.

  1. Lotus Esprit

From a variety of racetracks to the famous James Bond movies, the Lotus Esprit was one of the best sports cars of the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Colin Chapman conceived the Esprit in the mid-70s as the most ambitious Lotus project up to that date. With new construction, an Italian designed body and a low weight, consumers praised the Lotus Esprit for its handling and performance.

Since it was a British-built car, it had a few problems with reliability. But once drivers got it moving, they forgot about the dodgy electronics, rust, and disintegrating interior panels. Powered by a small 2.2-liter turbocharged engine, the Esprit eventually moved to V8 engines in the late ‘80s.

Production eventually stopped in 1996 and the Lotus has been without a replacement ever since. There were a few concepts of the 21st century Esprit, but nothing seemed to materialize in production-ready form.

  1. Hummer H1

Back in the mid-80s, the U.S. Military started using the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), which they affectionately called the Humvee. This was a big, heavy military truck capable of running over anything and surviving landmines. Even though they made the Humvee for the military, constant requests for a street-legal version got AM General thinking about entering the lucrative civilian market.

Finally, in 1992, they introduced the civilian Hummer H1. It looked the same as the military version with similar technology and engine. The power came from a 6.2-liter diesel V8 with just 165 HP and loads of torque. Basically, the only real difference between the military and civilian Hummer was the interior.

The street-legal model had a plush interior with air conditioning, leather upholstery, and a premium audio system. The Hummer H1 was expensive, huge and difficult to drive, making it impractical for most drivers. However, it was extremely popular with customers who wanted something different and opulent.

  1. Toyota MR2

One of the most compact and affordable sports cars that car fans want back is the Toyota MR2. Toyota introduced it in 1984 and sold it until 2007 in three generations. The MR2 was always a great handling and lively performing two-seater model with great driving dynamics.

Toyota invested in the GT86 sports model in recent years. But many car enthusiasts think what they should do instead is to remake the MR2. They feel that it would have a better impact on the market than the GT86, which is not the global bestseller Toyota hoped it would be.

  1. Pontiac GTO

Even though the 2004 to 2006 GTO wasn’t a successful model, it was an attractive, powerful muscle car with great features. But it did miss the mark, so Pontiac enthusiasts all over the world deserve another model. However, this time it should be a proper muscle car and an instant classic.

GM has several components and advanced platforms like the Alpha that could be the basis for a modern-day GTO. And the power is no problem since GM has one of the best lineups of performance V8s in the world. Many car fans would be delighted to see a modern-day GTO hit the streets and racetracks.

  1. Chevrolet SS

With a 6.2-liter V8, 412 HP, precise steering and neutral handling, the Chevrolet SS rival Europe’s finest sports sedans. But what most people don’t know is that they rebadged a Holden from Australia as a Chevrolet and fine-tuned it for their U.S. customers.

The performance numbers are respectable since a 0 to 60 mph sprint is possible in just 4.7 seconds. And the top speed is over 150 mph. So, the Chevrolet SS is for people who need a practical sedan but who want a sports car. So, although they discontinued the SS, most people would love to see it come back.

  1. Cadillac Fleetwood

It has been decades since Cadillac used the Fleetwood name as a designation for its flagship model. The Fleetwood brand was in use from 1934 to 1992 on various models. So, car fans all over the world feel that this legendary brand needs to dust off this famous nameplate.

They could use it on a new prestigious model that could battle their foreign competitors. Even though the new CT6 model is a truly amazing luxury car, Cadillac can do better. In fact, they need to present an over the top sedan with all the best features and big power.

  1. Buick Riviera

In 1963, they unveiled the Buick Riviera. And almost immediately, it became one of the most interesting cars on the American market. The combination of sleek and elegant styling, a modern interior and the powerful Buick Nailhead engine made the Riviera an instant bestseller.

Also, it was the first real competitor to the famous Ford Thunderbird. The Riviera stayed in production until 1993. But the first three generations, especially the GS, remained the most desirable luxury muscle cars Detroit ever produced.

  1. Jeep Grand Wagoneer

The Grand Wagoneer is one of the cars most driving enthusiasts want to see again. And happily, Chrysler will introduce the 21st-century version of the legendary Wagoneer in 2019 as a 2020 model. All anyone knows so far is that they will build the new Grand Wagoneer on a modified Cherokee chassis. Also, it will feature more luxurious features, powerful engines and possibly, a mega cool woodgrain panel option.

  1. Ford Bronco

One of the best news from Ford is the return of the legendary Bronco for the 2020/2021 model year. In a sea of shapeless modern SUVs, the return of a classic boxy Bronco with powerful engines and true off-road usability is so refreshing. It would be more than a welcomed addition to the lineup.

No one has much information on this car, just that it will look something like the Bronco Concept Ford introduced in the early 2000s. They will use the Eco Boost turbo engine, but most drivers are hoping they’ll feature that good old naturally aspirated V8 under the hood.

  1. Honda CRX

One of the most interesting compact affordable cars is the legendary Honda CRX. Built from 1983 to 1991, they based the CRX on the Civic, but with a lower, sportier body with only two seats. Since it was light, nimble and with precise steering, the CRX was a true sports car although with front-wheel drive and up to 140 HP.

The biggest selling points of this model were extremely light body, as the whole car weighed 1,800 pounds and a high revving four-cylinder engine. Honda never repeated the success of the CRX, so most Honda fans feel its lineup can use a car like this.

  1. Subaru BRAT

The Subaru BRAT or Bi-Drive Recreational All-Terrain Transporter was conceived in the late ’70s. They designed it to take advantage of the popularity of compact trucks in America. However, there were steep import taxes for foreign trucks that would kill all of Subaru’s profits.

So, the company thought of a genius way of selling the truck as a passenger car by installing two seats in the back. The BRAT became popular and legendary in its own right. And today’s Subaru could use some of that charm and uniqueness to revive its magic.

  1. Lincoln Mark III

Today, the Lincoln brand struggles with recognition and its future are unclear. Divided between the production of old-fashioned sedans and modern upscale SUV models, Lincoln needs a signature car. It should be something that will remind its customers what this brand is all about. So, how about a cool, luxury coupe like the legendary Mark III?

Introduced in late 1968, they built the Mark III on a Thunderbird chassis using the new and powerful 460 V8 engine. The front was dominated by a big chrome grille, reminiscent of a Rolls Royce. The hideaway headlights were an interesting touch and the trunk had a cool-looking spare wheel hump with Continental lettering. And that, in combination with the vinyl top, made Mark III design unique and special.

  1. Toyota Celica

Toyota might have the GT86 as its entry-level sports car, but somehow, this model lacks the coolness and appeal of the original Celica. They built it on a standard Toyota Carina base. The Celica was one step above the popular Corolla in terms of size, technology, and engine power. They presented the new Celica to American buyers in 1970 with two body styles, a regular two-door coupe and a hardtop fastback.

The Celica proved to be popular, so by the end of 1977, they sold more than 200,000. The best versions were with 2.0 and 2.2-liter engines that delivered a solid performance and satisfying driving dynamics at a modest price. And for those reasons, many people would love to see the Celica make a comeback.

  1. International Harvester Scout

The International Harvester company still exists today and has the capacity to produce a new age Scout. Unfortunately, there aren’t any rumors of this happening anytime soon. But there is an army of classic SUV fans that are craving a small, compact and attractive SUV with unmistakable design and off-road capabilities.

The Scout was a small, usable off-road SUV with choices of engines ranging from 2.5-liter straight four to 4.4-liter V8. Offered in 1961, they produced it until 1980. But even though it’s been nearly 40 years, most drivers would jump at the chance to own a new Scout.

  1. Dodge Viper

There isn’t any need to explain this one. The Viper is the quintessential American sports car with tons of power, fantastic design, and performance. And as such, its demise has truly affected enthusiasts globally. Everyone knows Chrysler can produce it and most just hope they can find a financially stable model in order to do so. And many car fans feel as if the car industry without the Viper is a boring mess.

  1. Chevrolet Chevelle SS

One of the most famous muscle cars was the mighty Chevelle SS. They based it on a regular Malibu two-door sedan. It featured the biggest engines Chevrolet had to offer like the 396, 427 and 454 V8 motors. Many drivers would like to see a new Chevelle with the rear-wheel-drive platform, LS V8 engine, Corvette performance and retro styling. GM could build something like this easily, so it is a good possibility.

  1. Lamborghini LM 002

Lamborghini made the Urus, a superfast SUV with a twin-turbo V8 and impressive performance. Still, many car fans are not so impressed. Yes, the Urus is a mighty fast luxury cruiser, but it isn’t as wild and unexpected as the mid-80s Lamborghini LM 002.

This crazy creation debuted in the mid-80s as Lamborghini’s attempt to enter the world of luxury SUVs and widen its appeal. The LM002 used a special chassis and suspension as well as Lamborghini’s famous V12 engine. The 5.2-liter unit with 400 HP was the same one as you would find in the legendary Countach.

  1. GMC Syclone

GM took an ordinary S10 bodyshell and installed a 4.3-liter V6 with a turbocharger. It was good for 280 HP. They added a special four-speed automatic they sourced from a Corvette and performance-based all-wheel drive. The power figures don’t sound much these days, but the Syclone was able to sprint to 60 mph in just 5.3 seconds.

And that made it faster than a contemporary Ferrari. Most GMC fans want the same thing, just with modern technology, a turbocharged V8 and capable all-wheel drive. If GM would build such a car, it would blast the door off any super SUV out there.

  1. Dodge RAM SRT-10

From 2004 to 2006, the Ram SRT-10 was one of the craziest, most powerful and fastest pickups Dodge ever produced. That itself is a hard thing to say since Dodge always had some wild special versions of their trucks. But, just look at the specs. It had an 8.2-liter V10 engine delivering over 500 HP.

And even though it achieved a 0 to 60 time of fewer than five seconds the fuel economy was in the single digits. Dodge doesn’t make V10 engines anymore, but there is the Hellcat Hemi V8 with 707 or more HP. Ram Hellcat anyone? Yes, please.

  1. Mercury Marauder

Although they never intended the Grand Marquis to be a performance car, Mercury decided to turn it into one. And they did that by installing a highly tuned 4.6-liter V8 producing 302 HP, as well as a revised suspension, gearbox, and brakes. All those changes turned this sleepy and comfy sedan into a sharp muscle car.

The performance was decent for a big, heavy sedan with a 0 to 60 mph time of around seven seconds. Even though Mercury as a brand is gone, most people can’t forget how cool it would be to see the Marauder again, as a Ford with black paint and a thumping V8 under the hood.

These are the 30 discontinued cars most people would kill to see again going down the street. Which one would you buy if it returned? All these cars have the potential to make an exciting comeback to the car industry.

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